Humor by Mark Bazer

Perhaps I live in a fantasy world. But I like to imagine that Jimmy John's, Halsted Street Deli, Potbelly, my mom and others who have provided me with sandwiches over the years all love one another.

That when, say, Potbelly runs out of ingredients for its "Wreck" sandwich, the others rush over with enough individually wrapped meat portions to last the day and ensure that no Potbelly patrons go hungry, or no hungrier than they typically are after eating at Potbelly.

That all the city's sandwich makers share a powerful bond over the knowledge that they thrive in a business that depends on most of us being incapable of spending five minutes in the morning to make our own sandwich.

That, perhaps, they even gather monthly at a hotel conference room in Rosemont to share trade secrets and swap jokes about Quiznos.

Needless to say, Jimmy John's v. Halsted Street Deli has shattered my illusion. It seems what is so often said is true: We and sandwich makers live in a litigious society.

If you haven't heard, Jimmy John's is suing Halsted Street Deli because they each have turkey sandwiches that have "Tom" in their names. The sandwich names also both have the word Turkey in them, but from what I gather, just the Tom part is the issue.

Jimmy John's claims, according to Crain's, that both its trademarked Turkey Tom and Hunter's Club are far too similar, in name and ingredients, to Halsted Street Deli's newer Tom Turkey and the Hunt Club sandwiches.

It's true -- the similarities between the sandwiches are downright eerie. For example, the Turkey Tom has lettuce and tomatoes ... and so does the Tom Turkey ... and so does, right, every other sandwich ever made.

Still, perhaps, Jimmy John's has a point. If your sandwich shop is going to have stupid names for its sandwiches, why not think of stupid names that are 180 degrees different from the place across the street's stupid names?

I'm no lawyer, but my guess is the ones Halsted Street Deli have hired have their work cut out for them. Indeed, their best bet, most legal analysts agree, is if Jimmy John's lawyers show up an hour and a half later to court than they said they would -- and that they then accept a little weed in lieu of a settlement.

The real question, though, is whether this lawsuit will spark another round of sandwich wars, like the one that ravaged the city in '98.

Let's hope not. I'd like to think there is as much room in Chicago for all sandwiches -- named Tom or otherwise -- as there is room for more meat in the Wreck I'll probably find myself ordering in about an hour.

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